Benchmark Community Bank: Community-Driven Banking
January 23, 2019 - The lighted sign on the corner of S. College and W. Main Streets in Downtown Youngsville tells passersby that something new has just opened its doors. What the burgundy and white Benchmark Community Bank sign does not tell you is that the fresh banking name brings old-fashioned community bank values to serve the people and businesses of the area.
Based out of Kenbridge, VA, a 90-minute drive to the northwest, Benchmark has been in the banking business since 1971. It was started by a group of Lunenburg County residents who wanted to offer a banking model dedicated to the customer. Rather than focusing on selling products and services, Benchmark takes relationship-building and offering outstanding service to heart. Benchmark employees work to assist friends, relatives, and people they see around town with products and services tailored to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
"Bringing on board outstanding bankers with solid community connections is one of the first steps we take when Benchmark enters a new area," explained President/CEO Jay Stafford. "Relationships of trust are critical for people looking for a bank. A community needs to feel certain that we are interested in helping them make informed financial decisions. Having someone we know representing the Benchmark name to a community is a key component to establishing a new branch."
For the bank’s introduction to Youngsville and Franklin County, Benchmark’s ambassadors are new faces to many in the community, though no strangers to community banking.
Youngsville resident and North Carolina native Rick Houser joined Benchmark in 2017 as the bank’s North Carolina Market Executive. Houser entered banking straight out of Appalachian State University and worked his way through the ranks. Upon joining Benchmark, he recruited veteran bankers to support the Wake Forest and Henderson loan production offices, both of which are transitioning to full-service branches.
Last summer, Houser realized Youngsville’s downtown bank was moving outside of the downtown business district leaving the area with no downtown bank.
"Every downtown needs a bank," Houser said. "The downtown is the heart and soul of a community with houses of government, retail, industry, and finance converging to create the marketplace towns like Youngsville need to grow. We believe this is a wonderful opportunity for Benchmark to fill the downtown bank vacancy for the Youngsville community."
One of his first tasks was to recruit seasoned bankers to support the new branch. Theresa Emo, VP/Branch Manager, and Customer Service Representative (CSR) Becky Winston have extensive financial institution experience to share with Benchmark customers.
A 20-year banking veteran, Theresa Emo knows the importance of cultivating relationships to build community. The New York native moved to Youngsville in 2017 and is thrilled to be presenting the Benchmark for Life concept to her adopted hometown.
"Benchmark’s pledge to always go the extra mile for our customers really says it all," Emo said. "People’s finances are personal. Too many of the banks in our industry are so numbers-driven, they forget that we are here to serve the customer and not the other way around. Benchmark’s philosophy is so refreshing. I’m so excited to be part of introducing Benchmark’s style of banking to Youngsville."
"When people are trying to deal with a financial need, they need someone to listen to their situation and do their best to find a way to help them. If our customers are successful, we’ve fulfilled our mission as a community bank."
Echoing Emo’s sentiment is CSR Becky Winston, also a Youngsville resident and active in area community organizations. According to Winston, Benchmark’s banking philosophy harkens back to the institution’s 1971 roots: find a way to help the customer.
"Since I began working with financial institutions in 2002, I’ve seen a lot of evolution in the industry," Winston said. "There have been several seasons with financial crises, as well as the general ups and downs of the financial services industry. I’ve seen too many institutions become so focused on selling a product that they’ve forgotten that the customer is coming to us because they have a need they’re hoping we can help them meet.
Our products are designed to help the customer," she continued. "We get to know our customers as people. They’re our neighbors and are facing the same issues we’re facing. Benchmark doesn’t just allow us; they encourage us to listen to the customer and find a way to help them."
Benchmark President/CEO Jay Stafford is equally excited about the bank’s entry into the Youngsville community. "The growth in this area is an incredible opportunity for us to offer a hometown approach to banking," Stafford observed. "We bring to Youngsville a menu of products and services designed to meet the needs of the communities we serve. From local decision-making on loans to a broad range of deposit products, we work to make each customer’s banking experience fit the way they prefer to do their banking."
Benchmark’s Youngsville branch at 110 S. College Street will celebrate their Grand Opening on Friday, January 25, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. with light refreshments and prize drawings throughout the day. The bank is open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended afternoon hours on Fridays until 6 p.m.
Including Youngsville, Benchmark Community Bank, Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender, has branch locations in 13 Southside Virginia communities, as well as Henderson and Wake Forest, NC. To learn more about Benchmark, its products and services, please visit the Youngsville branch or visit the bank’s website at www.bcbonline.com. You can also find them on Facebook: bcbonline.
Contact: Helen Person, VP/Director of Marketing
434-676-2666 ext. 1103
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